Today and tomorrow, UCSB’s track and field team will be in San Diego for the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. The Gauchos are looking to hit their stride with only a few key meets left before conference championships.

“It’s an opportunity to race well and compete well,” junior distance runner Sarah Vitug said. “Some out-of-state schools are going to be there [in addition to UCs and Cal States], so it should be a good meet.”

Last weekend at Mt. SAC Relays, senior distance runner Amanda Moreno broke the school’s 5,000-meter record by three seconds with a time of 15:58.02, setting the Big West record in the process. She finished No. 6 in the Olympic Elite division of the meet.

“I’m excited about the time, and it’s cool to get the record,” Moreno said. “But it’s just kind of a bonus — I don’t necessarily care about records.”

Moreno, who has been named Big West Track & Field Athlete of the Week twice this season, has already qualified for the NCAA Championships in May for the 5,000m. Junior middle distance runner Ryan Martin and junior distance runner Breanne Strenkowski have also qualified for the NCAAs in the 800-meter and 10,000-meter, respectively.

Earlier this season, on April 8, the women’s team won the Big West Challenge Cup in Irvine. Although last year’s Big West Champions — Cal State Northridge — were not at the meet, the Gauchos know they will have to compete against them later for the conference championships.

“We won [the Cup] last year, so it was cool to keep it,” Moreno said. “[But] Northridge is always really strong on the women’s side. They’re one of the teams to beat.”

Last weekend, the men’s team finished in second behind Long Beach State with 188 points to their 213. Junior thrower Alex Umstead moved up to No. 6 all time for Santa Barbara with a mark of 190’6” in the hammer throw.

“The Challenge Cup is a really good indicator of how our conference looks,” Vitug said. “It’s a good confidence boost if you get out on top and you have all this momentum for the rest of the season. We measured up well to competition we will see again.”

After the Gauchos return from San Diego, they will prepare for the Cal Poly Dual on April 30 in Santa Barbara, followed by the Big West Championships in Irvine on May 13 and 14.

This weekend’s events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m today and Saturday at UCSD’s track.